The writer is the midwife of understanding.
– AMITAVA KUMAR
Monthly Archives: September 2012
Good news for the Restored Voice Project: I have access to some lovely portraits and images of the Tibetan women of Dharamsala. This means the Kickstarter will launch sooner than expected: September 30th!
Wonderlane, A.K.A. Photographer Libre, has taken beautiful, evocative shots all around the world – including many from Seattle… it all seems to lead back to that place! – and has an extensive collection of Tibetan nuns at Dolma Ling nunnery. I’m always thrilled to discover their smiling faces, and in this case, I really needed some help. January rapidly approaches, and the Kickstarter needs to launch. However ready I may be, I know that I need images of these awe-inspiring ladies to really make this project tangible. But I’ve never been to Dharamsala to take my own media. Photographer Libre – aptly named – is happy to share her photos with me for the informational Kickstarter video, so that I can show the nuns themselves. A video just of me would not be as powerful, because this isn’t really my book. It’s theirs. And I hope to feature photography in the book.
I would like to take this moment to thank Wonderlane publicly. Her work is already exquisite, but it’s made all the more beautiful by her willingness to share and help other artists realize their goals – and, specifically with RVP, to help a project that seeks to share, empower, and spread the word to the world. Kudos, Wonderlane! All of you should definitely check out her site: here is it again. I think a copy of the finished book will magically appear in her mailbox someday…
“I have always felt that the action most worth watching is not at the center of things but where edges meet. I like shorelines, weather fronts, international borders. There are interesting frictions and incongruities in these places, and often, if you stand at the point of tangency, you can see both sides better than if you were in the middle of either one.” – Anne Fadiman
This is why refugees, and particularly Tibetan refugees in Dharamshala, have so much to tell us. They are hinged, living presently while still waiting, hanging in limbo, living oxymorons as they are free. Tibetans. I’ve been doing a lot of photography browsing of the region I’ll be visiting: in-between globalization and tradition, Dharamshala reminds me of an ancient, mountain hilltop village from long before my time just as it reminds me of NGO’s, cosmopolitanism, and our global aid community. Plus, of course, the effect of the events of my time.
Fadiman is the author of one of my all-time favorite books, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. A work of cultural and medical anthropology, it is a huge inspiration for the methodology I’ve developed for RVP, in its attention to emotion, compassion, and the individual’s voice while always prioritizing research, therefore material that is sound for the classroom. I can only hope to produce something as delicately drawn. Or, rather, I can only work very hard.